Brandon Woolley's early life footprints in a humble sporting landscape are firmly entrenched in the relatively unruffled terrain of Te Awanga in Hawke's Bay.

Although Woolley now lives in Wellington, after straying from the confines of his comfort zone since leaving Havelock North High School in the early 2000s, he never forgets the impact the Bay habitat has had on his upbringing, never mind how far he has drifted from it on entering the domain of adulthood.

"Sport has always been quite a big passion of mine so, with this role, it's basically providing these kids with opportunities I had when I was growing up," says the 33-year-old who, two months ago, assumed the mantle of the Wellington/Hawke's Bay adviser of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation.

"A lot of it is just facilitating opportunities for young, physically disabled youngsters getting involved in various sporting and recreational opportunities," he says.

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Woolley is playing in the annual Eagle Society of Hawke's Bay fundraising golf tournament for the Halberg Sports Foundation Trust in a field of 130 at the Napier Golf Club on Thursday from 11.30am.

"I've always been involved in sport right through high school, with a bit of cricket with Havelock North High School and then down here in Wellington with Karori for a few years."

The former Haumoana Primary School and Havelock North Intermediate pupil went on to graduate with a degree in health science in 2010 before topping it up with an honours degree in 2011 and a masters at Massey University, Wellington, in 2013.

He was a tutor at the university before starting with the Halberg foundation.

Woolley also took up mountain biking to stay active but finds it can be quite challenging with a young family.

He met his wife, Flo, an Englishwoman, in the capital city before they travelled in the United Kingdom for two years. They have two children, 2-year-old Thea and 2-month-old son Remi.

To provide avenues for children with disabilities to delve in wheelchair sports, surf, waka ama, sailing and the likes is his motivation and drive.

Brandon Woolley is the Wellington/Hawke's Bay adviser of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. Photo/Photosport
Brandon Woolley is the Wellington/Hawke's Bay adviser of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. Photo/Photosport

Woolley doesn't consider himself much of a golfer but he had played a round of golf with Bay Eagle society secretary/treasurer Jamie MacLeod a few weeks ago to establish a handicap of sorts for Thursday's tourney.

"These guys do an absolutely fantastic job right through the country," he says. "It's really quite encouraging to sort of see their commitment to the fund raising and all that money is going towards our activities fund primarily there to take away some of the barriers which disabled kids encounter in trying to get into sport."

The foundation has made 217 grants throughout the country from July 1 last year to June 30 this year.

The 39th society tourney here is instrumental in helping the national body, whose president David Howie and secretary Jeremy Ballantyne hail from the Bay, trying to help the foundation break the $5 million mark.

The Eagle Society of New Zealand (Inc) embraces 15 regions of which the Bay is one with 104 members, comprising active, non-active and honorary affiliates.

It is a non-profit society which also helps Bay clubs with visits, helps with national amateur championships involving men, women and juniors, fosters and promotes junior golf in the province and boosts the Halberg Trust's fund drives to support Bay recipients.

The Halberg Trust was founded in 1963. It is best known for its annual Halberg Awards to honour sporting excellence.

The guiding principle of the trust is to enhance the lives of disabled people by enabling them to participate in sport. The society is the backbone on which this trust has been built.

Its tourney started in 1980. An entry in a Bay society committee meeting on December 8, 1979, states: "J Humphries spoke of the efforts made by other societies to raise funds for this charity. The committee generally felt that the Hawke's Bay society should make an effort to establish this tournament on an annual basis at one of the 18-hole courses."

The inaugural tourney raised $3500. In 38 consecutive years it has amassed $346,260, averaging $9112 a year.

MacLeod says all tournaments have been held free of charge at the Waiohiki course and the society is indebted to the club for its gesture.

"We have been fortunate to have the support of pub charity and the Waipukurau Little Theatre as our major sponsors," he says.

"Pub charity has granted us $5000 to go towards prizes. This helps us raise more money for the Halberg Trust."

The Waipukurau theatre's charity night, to be staged on Wednesday, October 24, has the potential to raise up to $1500 for the trust.

Woolley hopes to establish a sports day where disabled youngsters can give myriad codes a shot to see if they find traction with one or two.

Sir Brian Lochore is the chief guest again this year. He is a Halberg foundation ambassador and an honorary Eagle of the Bay and Wellington societies.

Woolley's family still live in Te Awanga in Hastings.

"It's nice to take my kids up to stay with the grandparents," says Woolley who relishes the opportunity to return home every now and then.

"When I look up from Wellington, Hawke's Bay is always home in a sense so it's always fantastic to go there, especially back to Te Awanga which is a nice area to have grown up so it's quite a bonus for the role."

HB golfers of the year award joint winners Adam Winter (left) and Mako Thompson with HB Eagle Society secretary Jamie MacLeod (left), ex-president Jeremy Ballantyne and captain Peter Scott.
HB golfers of the year award joint winners Adam Winter (left) and Mako Thompson with HB Eagle Society secretary Jamie MacLeod (left), ex-president Jeremy Ballantyne and captain Peter Scott.